I can’t wait for 2019 to end.
As Her Majesty the Queen said of 1992, this has been my Annus Horribilis.
To start at the beginning, I need to go back to 2018. It started off well with the planned wedding of my youngest daughter in June. I spent a lot of time make all the bridesmaid dresses, thoroughly enjoying the process. Working with beautiful fabrics and gorgeous patterns is a joy. The day was hot and sunny, the venue stunning, everything was perfect for the Bride and Groom’s special day. The only small sadness was that my Mum and Dad couldn’t be there as the journey would have been too hard on them.
At this time, I was helping out my parents, taking my Mum shopping each week. She had a heart condition and found it impossible to carry shopping or walk the quarter of a mile to the bus stop. Still, I didn’t realise how bad her condition was becoming.
In December, Mum went into hospital. She was to have an angioplasty, a procedure to open up the arteries round her heart. It didn’t go well. The procedure couldn’t be fully completed as Mum’s blood pressure became critical. She return home, but the next day became very ill. The high blood pressure had caused a rupture and she was bleeding internally. She was rushed to hospital where, with the care, rest and attention she needed, she began to recover.
However, it was found her heart was in poor condition and she needed a heart bypass. Understandably, Mum was very scared, not only for herself, but for my Dad, for whom she was carer. As her strength improved after her ordeal, she became more positive and was looking forward to being able to do more and enjoy life once again.
In January, having not left the hospital since early December, Mum was prepped for the procedure. She was full of hope and a sparkle had returned to her eyes that I hadn’t seen for a very long time.
Once on the operating table, the surgeons started work. They were hit by obstacles straight away — the vessels they wanted to use for the bypass were to poor themselves to be used. Other vessels were found and put in place but they collapsed. In desperation, stents were used to keep the new vessels open. The operation had taken many more hours than it should.
The surgeons told the family to prepare for the worst. Mum looked young on the outside, but inside she was a frail old lady. Her heart was being kept going by machine in the hope that it would kick in, but her other organs were shutting down. Her life was hanging in the balance. Between us, the family kept a bedside vigil, hoping our presence would give her the strength to recover.
She passed away the next day on Sunday 13th January 2019 having never regained consciousness. Our worlds fell apart. Mum was the glue that kept the family together, myself and my brother and sister. She loved her children and grandchildren and was never happier than when we were all around.
On top of our grief, we needed to support my Dad. Mum had been his carer for a number of years. That may sound like it wouldn’t be too onerous a task, but it is hard to have compassion for someone who abused you throughout your childhood.
There was more heartache to come.
Late in 2018, my youngest daughter was overjoyed to find she was pregnant with her first child. They moved out of their one bedroom flat into a small house with a garden and 2 bedrooms ready for the new arrival.
The first scan showed a problem. The unborn baby had part of it’s intestines on the outside. Doctor’s reassured them that such early scans can show abnormalities that disappear over the pregnancy.
The next scan showed a much bleaker picture. The baby had a long list of abnormalities including spine, brain and organ defects. It had a very rare condition which was fatal. Only a handful of babies worldwide had survived birth and none had lived for more than 3 months. Both parents were devastated. In February of 2019, baby Matteo lost his fight for life.
The bleak year continued with more heartbreak.
In 2018, my nephew’s fiancee, a beautiful young lady who was his childhood sweetheart, had her bladder removed because of cancer. Despite the difficulties, she remained sunny and optimistic, making plans for her new house and garden with her Mum who lived close by.
Optimism turned to despair as the cancer returned, this time to her bones and now incurable. She was given 18 months to live. She was determined to live it to the fullest and the pair planned to marry in June.
Sadly the cancer was much more aggressive than Doctors thought. The wedding was brought forward and the couple who had been together since their teens, tied the knot in front of their closest relatives. She passed away just four days later in May.
My Dad had his own battles to deal with, the grief of losing his wife of almost 50 years, his inability to look after himself, and an operation to remove cancer from his ear. He could not cope in his house despite the family rallying round, dealing with finances, providing him with meals. He wanted one of the family to live with him, so we devised a plan. He would sell the house and move in with my second daughter. This would give him the company he craved and he wouldn’t have to prepare any of his own meals. Despite the past, we all helped as much as we could and in November finally took possession of the new house.
There was an immediate change in my Dad’s behaviour. He became aggressive towards myself and my daughter. Life became tense waiting for the next outburst. We hoped it was just a matter of settling down, his anxiety would diminish and life would become peaceful again. I was reliving the life I had at his hands in the past and was feeling my own rising panic and the feeling of desperation that led me to take an overdose at the age of 17. I wasn’t going to be able to cope with the situation very long.
One morning, Dad’s anxiety was so bad, he thought he was having a heart attack, with pains in his chest and arms. He was admitted to hospital where he stayed for a week. Nothing physical could be found to explain his symptoms but it was noted he was very depressed. He refuses to accept that the physical problems could be caused by depression and anxiety.
He has spent one more night at home, when we realised we could not cope with his needs. He would not bathe himself or feed himself. He was rude and demanding, which didn’t help us empathise.
Dad is now in a residential care home. We are awaiting proper assessment to ascertain his real needs and the level of care he needs going forward. He wants to go home, but we know that isn’t possible without live in care. We also know he won’t improve while he refuses to accept that he has a mental condition that needs addressing. I find myself hoping that he is assessed as needing to stay in care. I catch myself feeling guilty about that, but I know we have done everything we could to make his wishes a reality.
As the year end nears, and someone else is looking after Dad’s day to day needs, I’m finally finding time to get back to my own life.
Medium has been completely neglected, my aims and aspirations for my writing and photography, my employment as a Support Worker for adults with Autism.
It’s time for reconnecting with my children and grandchildren, my long suffering and supportive Husband, for getting back to my allotment and garden and all the creative hobbies I enjoy.
Of course, there had to be another sting in the tail.
I have a couple of hobbies, painting and photography. Some of the painting I do is on glass and crystal, which I turn into decorative items and jewellery. I sell some items at Art and Craft shows. I hadn’t done any all year due to time constraints, but fitted one in recently to support a friend organising a show for the first time. I emptied the car all but for a couple of boxes and went to work the following day.
When I returned to the car, there were 3 windows smashed and the 2 boxes plus several other items stolen (coat, spare phone, CD’s). The police were unable to help as there were no CCTV cameras and no physical evidence due to the torrential rain.
The car itself was insured (although there is an excess I will have to pay) but contents are only covered to £50. The jewellery I lost, made with Swarovski silver and crystal was worth thousands. The thieves must really have thought it was Christmas! My amazing daughter has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise some money so that I can rebuild my stock and get ready for a brighter new year in 2020.
Can you help? It is hard at the best of times to make a living as a writer, artist or other creative but these next few months will be particularly hard for me as I try to rebuild a platform. If you would like to see more of my work, if you get some value from the articles I present, please could you help out even with the smallest amount by making a donation to the Go Fund Me page. Thank you for reading this far :)